Microsoft [[MSFT]] has just released another version of its most-eagerly anticipated Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista, labeled as Release Candidate 1; along with another build of Windows Server 2008: the November CTP. Both releases are available to official testers from Microsoft Connect.
This is the third SP1 release made “available” to the public, starting with the leaked build back in August, followed closely by the first official release of Windows Vista SP1 beta in September.
Vista SP1 RC1 (build tag: 6001-17042-071107-1618) has been available as both an slip-streamed ISO image and a standalone upgrade utility. The slip-streamed ISO image is available in either English or Japanese, while the upgrade utility supports the five main Windows Vista localizations (Arabic, English, French, German, and Japanese).
The Windows Server 2008 November CTP (build tag: 6001-17042-071107-1618) is only available as an ISO in English in multiple flavors (Web Server & Standard Edition) for multiple platforms (x86, x64, and IA64).
Neither of these releases are available to the general public at the moment (Windows Server 2008 RC1 is available here though), but the Vista SP1 beta program has been expanded to 15000 beta testers – the most yet.
We expect the Windows Vista SP1 beta to be made available to the general public pretty soon, going by previous trends like Windows XP SP2 (made available at around this same stage of development).
The Windows Vista SP1 RC1 upgrade weighs in at 434.8MB and 734.3MB for the x86 and x64 builds respectively.
The big question that’s no doubt on everyone’s mind right now: Is Windows Vista SP1 being rushed?
Our honest opinion: most definitely not. Microsoft knows what’s at stake here, and while they’ve made their fair share (and then some) of “buggy” initial releases of software and operating systems, Microsoft always done a pretty good job with Service Packs – we don’t think Windows Vista SP1 is any different.
While it’s true that there’s only been one beta build made available to testers before this RC release, it’s important to note that most (if not all) the patches and updates in Windows Vista SP1 have been in development and testing for a long time now, released as hotfixes (private or otherwise) on Microsoft Support.
Microsoft met the investor’s needs with the much-delayed and quite-buggy Windows Vista RTM a year ago (almost to the very day now), and now it’s time for the business users to get their turn. Most businesses are holding off on upgrading until at least SP1, and it’s Microsoft’s last chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of their more technical users.
More importantly, the earlier beta release of Windows Vista SP1 has not disappointed testers. While it may not have addressed all the issues (performance- and stability-wise) in Vista RTM, it didn’t introduce too many new glitches or incompatibilities – and that’s most of what the game is about.
Service packs generally have two goals: The first is to fix what’s broken, and the second is to make sure nothing that used to work breaks as a result. And as any software engineer will tell you, the second is infinitely harder to gage and ensure. It’s easy to fix most bugs once they’re identified; the trick is in extensive regression testing and constant compatibility test suites.
The bottom line is, we don’t believe Windows Vista SP1 is being rushed. Nor do we believe that it will be perfect – but it doesn’t have to be; all it needs to be is good enough for businesses and other power users to finally make the switch and be more-or-less happy with it, until the next updates come out.
Discuss this release in our tech-lounge/forums with fellow geeks and testers.